Chinese-Australian billionaire accused of bribery 'very honourable', court told
The Chinese-Australian billionaire Chau Chak Wing who is suing Fairfax Media for defamation has been described by witnesses at his Sydney lawsuit as a very honourable man and one of the nation’s most generous philanthropists.
Sydney GP Tony Goh Chong Maw testified that after the publication of the Fairfax article in October 2015 people in the local Chinese community conveyed to him “their indignation” at the unsubstantiated story which he said reported that Chau had tried to bribe UN officials.
Goh was one of three reputation witnesses who gave evidence in the federal court on Wednesday in Chau’s legal action against Fairfax and the journalist John Garnaut over the online article.
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His lawyers claim the article conveys four defamatory meanings, including that Chau bribed the former UN president John Ashe and created his Australian business empire by making illicit payments to government officials.
Fairfax and Garnaut deny the article insinuated “actual guilt”, saying it suggested he was “suspected” of being involved in the UN scandal, and contend the publication was reasonable.
The former vice-chancellor of Sydney’s University of Technology, Ross Milbourne, said Chau donated $20m for its new business school building.
“I was just recovering from that and he said, ‘I want to give an extra $5m for scholarships,’ ” Milbourne said.
The university decided to name the building after Chau who had not sought a favour or anything in return for the donation. Milbourne considered Chau a “very honourable man”.
Goh, the chairman of the Australian council of Chinese organisations, told the court he had known Chau since 1999, and before the article was published he had “an excellent reputation” and was highly respected in the community.
“His generosity as well as his very humble personality and very successful business person that really make him a leader of our Chinese community,” he said.
He believed the article had no substance but said it “very badly damaged the reputation of Dr Chau”.
Sydney University’s director of museum and cultural engagement, David Ellis, said Chau had donated $15m to the project.
“Dr Chau struck me as one of Australia’s most generous philanthropists,” he said.
When he read the Fairfax story he became concerned about whether it was true and had “a few sleepless nights” worried the university could become embroiled in the matter by
But he began to monitor the situation and a colleague told him she investigated and “was satisfied there was nothing in them”.
The hearing continues before justice
Chau Chak Wing, who is suing Fairfax and journalist John Garnaut for defamation, has been described in court as a ‘very honourable man’.